Hill, Alfred, born 21-01-1924 in Southampton, Hampshire
His father, Alfred Hill (1893–1972), later manager of a surgical appliance shop, and grandfather, Henry Hill (born 1871), had both been circus clowns. His mother was Helen (born Cave; 1894–1976). “Benny” attended Taunton’s School. During World War II, he was evacuated to Bournemouth. After leaving school, Hill worked at Woolworth’s as a milkman, a bridge operator, a driver and a drummer before he finally got a foot in the door of the entertainment industry by becoming assistant stage manager with a touring review. He was called up in 1942 and trained as a mechanic, but transferred to the Combined Services Entertainment division
before the end of the war. It was there that he met his future agent, Richard Stone,
then a colonel. Benny Hill was drafted into the British Army Royal, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as a mechanic and arrived in Normandy 01-09-1944.
“Benny” was a searchlight operator for the Third Light Anti-Aircraft Searchlight Battery
which landed at the famous Mulberry floating harbors.
From there they were sent to Dunkirk where a pocket of 7,000 Germans had been bypassed. Though they nicknamed the area ‘buzz bomb alley’ they saw little action, though a few men were killed while on guard duty. Hill was not a natural soldier. In training he developed a bad case of ‘guardsman’s foot’ and he never did get the hang of driving. But his sense of humor was as sharp as ever. When his sergeant asked him what a ‘fine sight’ was, he replied, ‘Two dinners on one plate.’ He was eventually transferred to Germany
and began entertaining, ending up in the production ‘Stars in Battledress’.
Death and burial ground of Hill, Alfred Hawthorne “Benny”.
After suffering a mild heart attack on 24-02-1992, doctors told him he needed to lose weight and recommended a heart bypass. He declined, and a week later was found to have kidney failure. Hill died at the age of 68 on 20-04-1992. On 22 April, after several days of unanswered telephone calls, his producer, Dennis Kirkland,
climbed a ladder to the balcony of Hill’s 3rd
floor apartment and upon seeing the body through a window had the neighbours call the police. The police broke into the apartment and found Hill, dead, sitting in his armchair in front of the television. Hill’s cause of death was recorded as coronary thrombosis.
“Benny” Hill is buried at Hollybrook Cemetery near his birthplace in Southampton.
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